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Baking Bread on Sunday

I have been using this book for more than a year now, and tried almost every recipe. The ciabatta loaves are one of my favorites.

Our family schedule has changed in a way that has made it difficult for me to bake bread during the week. So now, Sunday is the day that I make sure to indulge my love of fresh sourdough bread. Most of what I know about baking sourdough bread comes from Jim Lahey’s Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook. I have baked a few duds along the way. Patience is definitely the main ingredient. Yesterday, however, I came close to achieving perfection!

Instead of covering with a damp cloth, I put my dough in the bottom oven with the light on and a pan of warm water.

I keep my biga, (a drier, thriftier form of sourdough starter,) alive in my refrigerator. Since I didn’t remember to start some dough on Saturday night, I chose a recipe that doesn’t take as long to rise that I could still start on Sunday morning. Mr. Lahey offers two ways to make the ciabatta dough, the slow, no mix method, or the fast, use your mixer method. I used my mixer. After three hours I had a glass bowl full of bubbly bread dough that I turned out onto a board, folded in half, and cut into two loaves. I left them to rise for three hours in my bottom oven.

The cast iron pots need to be pre-heated in a 500° oven.

About a half hour before time, I started heating my top oven and the cast iron pots, with lids. The tricky part comes when you quickly pick up your bubbly, sticky dough and place it in the pot without over-handling it. I have messed that part up a couple of times. I think it was because I rushed the foreplay a little…

This dough is ready to go in a hot cast iron pot.

The moment of truth comes after you take the pots out of the oven and lift the lid to see if the bread that you touched so tenderly, actually rose up, and looks golden and inviting. This time around, I got exactly what I was going for!

Springy, airy, delicious, ciabatta bread.

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